Are CVTs the fastest transmissions?

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Nobody truly likes a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). They are loud, soulless, sometimes unreliable, and frankly, they often make your car sound awful. But here's the cold hard reality: From an engineering standpoint, they make sense.

Our friend Jason Fenske from Engineering Explained is back, and this time he's here to talk about CVTs. More specifically, whether CVTs are actually the best transmissions for acceleration.

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The Cliff Notes version: You, the consumer, don't understand CVTs and because of that the automakers are basically engineering them the wrong way just to please you. So really, this is all your fault.

But back to the main point, CVTs are actually the fastest transmissions, and this all comes down to math. Math is hard, but Jason breaks it down with equations to prove this point. Bottom line: For best acceleration, you want to be at peak power as often as possible, and traditional gears fall off and make you lose wheel torque.

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By simply adjusting the gear ratio on a constant basis, a CVT allows you to stay at peak power throughout the curve. That said, to date CVTs haven't been developed for high-torque applications, because really, who wants a CVT in a supercar?

Sure, manual transmissions are the best, because you can #GiveAShift. In our book, dual-clutch transmissions are an acceptable alternative for track days, but math has just proven, the reality is CVTs are actually the fastest transmissions.

 
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